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Author Topic: Help with identifying vintage Martin Freres set -3 clarinets in one case, A/Bb/C  (Read 67 times)

Offline MagooTang

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Hi clarinet experts-

I'm a music teacher who stumbled upon this neat looking box of three clarinets in an antique store. Picked it up because I could barely read "Martin" on the A clarinet, and I've never seen keys quite like these before.

When I got home, a quick search found that this could be the "Simple System Clarinet by Martin Freres (Key of A, Bb or C) Boxwood or Grenadilla – Professional c1870 – c1905" but I have no idea if it is all original, it just appears to all be exact, and in working order.

I guess my question is looking at the pictures do you think I am correct in my assumption? Does anyone have any more information about this? I can provide more pictures if need be!  :)

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Welcome Mangoo!

(by the way, i LOVE Tang.)

Triple-clarinet sets are hard to find, and a triple-clarinet case is very hard to come by.

However, the clarinets do not appear to be a matched set.

The clarinet third from left and the far right (possibly the Bb clarinet) is of an older vintage than the other two.

The key here is the lack of rings on the upper section, and the lack of rollers on the lower section pinky keys.

The lack of rings and rollers indicates that this particular model is closer to the 1870-1890 range. Split the difference and call it 1880.

The other two (C and A, I presume) are squarely in the 1900-1920 range. 1895-1905 would be my guess.

The two with matching key systems (assuming they are both marked Martin) are very likely from an originally matching set - although C and A sets are odd. Can you confirm which clarinet is which key? I have a hard time telling lengths from the computer screen.

The outlier was likely added to the matched set at a later time, probably at the same time the triple case was procured.




« Last Edit: September 02, 2018, 09:16:40 PM by DaveLeBlanc »
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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There is some discussion about when the use of "Simple System" is correct.

Clarinets went through a large variety of key systems before settling on the most popular modern variant, the Boehm system.

Although the Boehm system dates back as far as 1840, it coexisted with at least three other major systems at the same time: Simple Simple System, and Simple (Albert) System.

Simple Simple System (I call it Triple-S) is any of a variety of key systems variations with
A) no rings on the upper joint
B) no rollers on the lower joint pinky keys

The Simple System (Albert System) is characterized by the presence of at least one ring on the upper section, and the presence of rollers on the lower section.

The Oehler System is for the most part an upgraded/enhanced Albert System with extra bells and whistles.

For sake nomenclature convenience, I refer to any system sans rings and rollers as Simple System, and any system WITH rings and rollers (but not Boehm) as the Albert System.

Anyways, that's not what you were looking for, but there it is.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline MagooTang

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Hi David! Thank you for all of that wonderful information!!! (I'm a brass/percussion spet, so any info is helpful!)

So yeah, I'm now looking at the clarinets in more detail. I took them out and organized the clarinets by length. The two "Simple System" clarinets (A and Bb) are on the left and the "Albert System" C clarinet is on the right. I'm hoping they were put in correctly, because I just took them out like they were put in. Are these collectible? I am not a collector but thought they were unique enough to pick them up.

Once again- thank you for the quick response!

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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Collectibility of these is pretty high, especially since they’re Martin.

However, value will be determined by whether these are High Pitch or Low Pitch. High pitch clarinets are mostly unusuable in modern day bands, thus their values are relatively low.

Simple system are generally worth less than Albert.

If they are all Low Pitch, they would be worth a lot more.

Especially the C clarinet - being an Albert it is more desirable than the Simple systems. If it’s also Low Pitch then this would be the star of the set.
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages

Offline MagooTang

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David,

Once again thank you! I am worried about assembling them and damaging them so I will not be checking for low/high pitch, unfortunately. I'm listing them on eBay because I have no use for these instruments, and would rather they go to a collector. Please let me know if there is any problem with the listing- you have been incredibly helpful! :)

http://rover.ebay.com/rover/1/711-53200-19255-0/1?icep_ff3=2&pub=5575378759&campid=5338273189&customid=&icep_item=253848920175&ipn=psmain&icep_vectorid=229466&kwid=902099&mtid=824&kw=lg&toolid=11111

Offline DaveLeBlanc

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The listing looks great. I think the starting price might be a bit low, but 3 days in and no bids might indicate otherwise.

Either way, hopefully you get some decent profit out of these!
David Watson of the original The Clarinet Pages